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North Bay men's shelter says more and more people need help

North Bay's men's homeless shelter Hope Awaits Ministries says there has been a sizeable influx of homeless men looking for a bed at night and a hot meal.

The men's faith shelter, which can provide a room for seven clients each night, is continuing to provide as much support as it can.

“We need to have a change of heart. That's what we try and do is change our own heart and that of our clients. There needs to be a change of heart in the city for those in need," said shelter care worker Phillip Penna.

The shelter is only open in the evenings and at night for 15 hours. Staff are trying to find other ways to meet the demand they see at their door on a daily basis.

"It can be hard having a limited space. But on the flip side, having less space also creates a different family atmosphere that has really helped our clients," said the shelter's executive director Nicole Clark.

"They feel like they're part of a home."

The shelter's priority now is not to expand space but its operating hours as volunteers are finding it difficult to help with the growing problems of alcohol and/or drug addictions and mental health with which clients struggle.

Volunteers often refer the homeless men to other services throughout the city to help with their addictions.

“We're working with them on a longer-term basis. We're not an emergency shelter," said Penna.

"We have to be discerning about who we let in. Often what we'll say is 'Look we need you to do a couple things first and then come back in a couple of weeks.'"

Saturday afternoon from noon-7, Hope Awaits Ministries is hosting its fourth annual Homeless Night Challenge at the Lake Nipissing waterfront to raise money that will go right back to the shelter.

Since its inception, the fundraiser has raised close to $230,000.

"We work with them the men one-on-one to get them re-established and back in the community," said Clark.

"Having an event like this, raising the awareness of homelessness and about what we do at Hope Awaits, is really big for us because we are a community shelter."

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During the fundraiser, participating teams will be placed in the shoes of a homeless person and they will have to build their own shelter as if they're living rough on the street.

More than 160 men have been housed at the shelter since it opened five years ago. Top Stories

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